The Online Business Owner's Guide to Auditing and Improving Your Sales Copy

The Online Business Owner's Guide to Auditing and Improving Your Sales Copy.jpg

A valuable product needs effective sales copy.

Even if the product or service is high enough quality, without good copywriting, no one will give it a chance. This tends to be the bane of many new businesses, as they focus on their product but neglect to market it.

Of course, it’s not easy to craft good copy. It takes a lot of practice to become a professional copywriter.

And then there are platform-specific issues to potentially contend with, such as website maintenance when writing landing pages, blog posts, or anything else for a site. A copy’s quality gets undermined when a page fails to load in a short amount of time. In fact, 40% of prospects abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Fortunately for you, we’ll be going through a helpful list of changes you’ll want to make when auditing your sales copy and website for a high conversion rate.

 

#1 Make the Headlines Better

If your headlines aren’t attention-grabbing, they’re not doing their job. Many online readers will skim articles and primarily read the headlines. If those headlines aren’t attention-grabbing, the finer details won’t have a chance of being read. And, of course, you won’t get any sales either.

So, how do you improve those headlines? The first step is to keep them simple. A fancy, hard-to-read headline won’t motivate anyone. But the simple, to-the-point headlines will motivate readers to keep reading.

Next, you should make sure the wording in your headlines is attention-grabbing. They should still be simple, of course, but you should be promising a big benefit that appeals to your readers. You should also try and word them in a way that they compel the reader to keep reading on.

Here’s a list of example headline archetypes that have been proven to work over the years:

  • List a problem and a solution at the same time

    • “Fix X by doing Y”

  • Lists

    • “X reasons why...”, “X things that every…”, “X tips for…”

  • How to guides

    • “How to X”

  • Success stories

    • “How I did X”, it’s a variation on traditional how-to guides

  • Questions that beg to be answered

    • “Are you X and ready to Y?”

  • Shocking news

    • “The true reasons for X will shock you!”

  • Draw on curiosity

    • “Discover X right now!”

  • Offer a break from “normal” life

    • “Come do X now!”

  • Use fear

    • “Do you know what to do if/when X?”

Not every headline has to follow these archetypes of course, but all of these are proven examples of attention-grabbing headlines. As you can see, they tend to be simple and to the point, without trying to be fancy. All you want your headlines to do is motivate your readers into reading the rest of your article.

 

#2 Stay Focused On The Customer

Customers care about what benefits your business can provide to them. They don’t care about your business’s history or you personally unless it’s directly relevant to them and makes you more credible.

Your copy should reflect this. Make sure that your copy shows that you understand what customers are looking for and that you know how they feel.

As an example, let’s take this short, simple copy and improve it:

This is Daniel’s Dogs website.

We were founded in 2017 and focus on selling dog food and dog accessories.

Our number is 555-555-5555 and our email is danielsdogs@danielsdogs.com

Obviously, this copy has lots of room for improvement, but in this example, focusing on the customer improves it significantly:

Do you own a dog and need to provide for it?

Do you need toys for your dogs, or food to feed them?

Look no further than Daniel’s Dogs!

I own a few dogs myself, and founded Daniel’s Dogs in 2017 to help out other dog-owners provide for their dogs.

We’re here to serve you! Contact us at 555-555-5555 or danielsdogs@danielsdogs.com!

Neither of these is perfect, obviously, but in the second example, the customer can more clearly see that the business is for them, and the business seems much more credible. By simply changing the focus from the business to the audience, you immediately boost the effectiveness of your copywriting.

Here are some strategies you can use to more effectively write for your customers:

  • Think from the customer’s perspective, and write about what they would care about and understand

  • Talk about benefits over features

    • Benefits are what customers care about. Features don’t matter if they don’t benefit the customer in the way they want.

    • Think about your writing by asking “So what?” over and over, so that you can get to what matters for customers.

      • The computer has a high-resolution screen! “So what?” So you can see more at once, and at higher details! “So what?” So you can multitask better and make everything you do look better! “Ah, I see why I’d want that now.”

  • Use testimonials from other customers

    • This will prove that you can and have helped customers with similar problems in the past

  • Avoid using industry lingo/jargon, speak with everyday vocabulary and sentence structure

This isn’t every strategy you can use, but as you can see, generally you should speak specifically to a customer’s desires and speak like they do while boosting credibility as much as possible.

 

#3 Make Your Copy Look Better

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Looks don’t affect the quality of the content, but many potential readers will skip out on something that looks boring or hard to read.

Go back to point number 1 on this list. Imagine if instead of using the bullet points, we made our list in this format:

For your convenience, I’ll go over a few different headline archetypes you can use. First, you could list the problem and solution in your headline, by saying something like “Fix X by doing Y!” Second, you could make a list by writing something like “Here are X reasons why….” Third, you could make a how to guide, with a headline like “How to do X.” Similarly to a how to guide, you could make a success story, by writing a headline like “Here’s how I did X.” And the list goes on.

The content is roughly the same, but it just looks so much more intimidating to read. Plus you’re much more likely to get lost mid-paragraph and forget what you just read because of how many ideas are presented at once.

Your readers don’t want to read big blocks of text. They want something that’s easily digestible and easy on their eyes.

How do you make your copy look better? Here’s a list of things you could do:

  • Use numbered lists or bullet points where appropriate

    • Lists naturally compel readers to read until the end of them, and look nice too!

  • Use a variety of headers and subheaders to divide the text into appropriate categories

    • Having “chapters” makes it easier to digest bulk information since you can go chapter by chapter

  • Use lots of shorter paragraphs instead of one big paragraph

    • Shorter paragraphs are much less intimidating to the eye

  • Add white space between big sections of text

    • Similarly to using lots of headers and subheaders, having white space signals readers that a new “chapter” is beginning and makes them easier to interpret

  • If it makes sense, add photos, videos, and links to give readers breaks from your text and make it more interactive

  • Vary the formatting when it makes sense, such as indenting quotes instead of simply using quotation marks

    • Don’t be inconsistent with your style, but make sure your style incorporates a lot of different-looking formatting where it makes sense

  • Use text formatting where appropriate, such as for emphasis and importance and significance.

Not only does making your copy look better draw more readers in, but it’ll also raise your credibility a bit. Using extensive formatting will make your copy look more professional and the extra effort will be recognized.

 

#4 Make Sure You Have Effective Calls-To-Action

A CTA is necessary when you want to close the sale. After reading all about your business, potential customers will be trying to figure out what to do next. If you don’t have a CTA, they might go look elsewhere since there’s no obvious way to progress the sale.

Once you have the CTA itself, you need to make sure it’s an effective CTA. Use incredibly confident wording and be commanding. You want them to know that you know exactly what they want and how to get it to them.

How do you create a good CTA? Here’s a mini-guide:

  1. Start with a strong commanding verb

    • E.g. “Buy, sell, order, contact”

    • Something that immediately asks the reader to do something big

  2. Give a very specific instruction for the reader to follow

    • E.g. “Call us for more information on…”

    • You want the reader to know exactly what the next step is

  3. Be enthusiastic

    • E.g. “Buy now for a massive discount!”

    • If your CTA is enthusiastic, there’s a good chance that that feeling will rub off on your readers too

    • The quickest and easiest way to do this is to add an exclamation mark at the end of your CTA, but there are other, better ways to do this from time to time.

  4. Give people a reason to follow the CTA

    • E.g. Offer limited-time offers to leverage the fear of missing out, offer risk-reducers like money-back guarantees, add freebies to the current deal

  5. Tune your CTA based on the target audience

    • Primarily, this is by tuning the CTA based on the user’s device

      • Mobile users tend to be looking for instant results, whereas a user on a desktop or tablet is more likely to be doing more in-depth research

      • Mobile-focused CTAs should include phone numbers, and desktop-focused CTAs should focus on emails or extra information

This guide doesn’t cover every situation, and sometimes purposefully breaking rules can be used to great effect. Regardless, it’s a good guideline to follow when you’re not sure what else to do since most of the good CTAs will incorporate all of these points.

 

#5 If You Aren’t Already, Offer Incentives

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Investing in a business that you aren’t confident in is a risky endeavor. However, if that business offers incentives that reverse that risk, you’ll be much more likely to convert cautious people.

Most commonly, as mentioned in the previous point, limited-time offers, money-back guarantees, and freebies can stir people into impulsively investing. When there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by investing, you can guarantee that more people will want to invest in the first place.

What do these incentives look like? You’ve probably seen a lot of these examples before:

  • “Buy now and get X absolutely free!”

  • “If you aren’t happy with your purchase, we have a 30-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee!”

  • “If you buy now, you can buy the X bundle at a massive discount!”

  • “Don’t wait: buy now or you’ll miss out on a free X!”

  • “Why wait? We have a money-back guarantee so there’s no risk!”

  • “Want this limited-time special edition X? Buy now before it’s gone!”

  • “We’re only selling X for a little while, so hurry up and order today!”

It’s a very easy concept to grasp, but incredibly effective. These incentives take some of the pressure off the quality of your product/service and copy by making people more impulsive. The fear of missing out is a powerful psychological tool, and all copy should be using it.

 

#6 Be Singular

What does this mean? Well, for each and every sentence, you should be presenting exactly one idea. Limiting yourself to one idea makes sure that you get that idea across clearly and concisely.

This is something you’ll see in all good copywriting. For example, take a look at some of Apple’s copy. In this example, the iPhone XR’s page on apple.com is the focus.

The first thing that say, front and center, is this:

“Brilliant. In every way”

Even if that neglects to mention every specific facet of the iPhone XR, it’s an incredibly compelling headline that immediately piques people’s interest.

From there, they say this:

“All-screen design. Longest battery life ever in an iPhone. Fastest performance. Water and splash resistant. Studio-quality photos and 4K video. More secure with Face ID. The new iPhone XR. It’s a brilliant upgrade.”

Apple uses many short, concise sentences that convey exactly one important idea. And all of these ideas are huge selling points for the iPhone XR. Even if they don’t get into the technical details until later, they’ve already convinced many people from that description alone.

Their introduction to Liquid Retina does the same thing:

“Introducing Liquid Retina. The new display on iPhone XR is the most advanced LCD in the industry. An innovative backlight design allows the screen to stretch into the corners. So you see true-to-life color from one beautiful edge to the other.”

They clearly state that the display is the “most advanced LCD” in the industry, then they go on to explain why that matters. Customers only care about the benefits, so this is exactly how you connect with them.

All of their other points follow a similar format, describing a feature and what benefits those features have. They throw in technical details from time to time that add credibility, but those details aren’t the focus of the points.

 

#7 If You Can Be Countered, Counter the Counter

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Not all products or services are controversial, but some will be. In those cases, you should argue for why your product or service is worth it. At the same time, you should also be arguing against naysayers and their objections.

If people aren’t completely on board with your product, they might not invest in it. Countering reasons to avoid the product helps reassure them.

Going back to Apple, let’s look at the iPhone XR’s lack of a home button (like the original iPhone X). Some people might be worried that the phone would be clunky without it. Apple directly counters this:

“No Home button? No problem. You can go everywhere you need to go with a few simple actions.”

They then provide a link to show you exactly how the gesture-based menus work. Apple is saying that the perceived problem is not a problem, and then showing why. Their demonstration is great too, using wording that emphasizes how easy the gestures are to use.

In essence, by reducing the reasons to not buy a product, you directly increase the reasons to buy a product. And, of course, more reasons to buy means more buyers.

 

#8 Improve Everything Around the Copy

Great copy needs a great website. If the website is clunky or doesn’t work right, the copy won’t work right either. The website will completely undermine your beautiful copy.

How exactly do you fix that, though? Here’s a list of things to consider when auditing the website:

  1. Assess the website’s ease of use and performance

    • Is the website easy to use, with obvious buttons and functions?

      • Are my main selling points easily accessible and visible?

      • Is the website too cluttered, or is the website too empty?

      • Can people easily buy from me if they want to?

        • Will they get distracted in the process, by ads or other distractions?

    • Is the website fast?

      • Is my website or elements on it physically too big, making it take a long time to load?

      • Are my servers not fast enough to keep up with the website?

      • Is my website online consistently, or does it go down sometimes?

  2. Make sure people can easily find your website with SEO

    • Does your website have quality content, or is it just filler?

    • Is my website made in a way that search engines can find it easily?

      • Are you including big keywords that everyone is searching for?

  3. Make sure your website is effectively converting people once they’re on the website

    • Are your calls-to-action doing their jobs?

      • Do you have enough of them?

    • Do I have a good landing page(s)?

    • Am I giving people enough offers to choose from?

      • Are those offers available at various places throughout the website?

  4. Ensure that the website is technically sound

    • Does your website work well on mobile?

    • Are error messages showing up in places they shouldn’t be?

      • Are those error messages useful for the user, or are they the results of dead links that take users away from your offers?

    • Are the website’s URLs too complex or too long?

      • Will these URLs make the website harder for search engines to index because of changing variables like session IDs?

    • Is your website utilizing too much Flash or JavaScript, giving search engines a harder time indexing it?

      • Do these Flash or JavaScript elements prevent some users from using your website?

      • Are these elements necessary? Could text or images replace them?

This isn’t everything, as there are many more technical details that could be mentioned. However, as long as you’re confident that your website is following these guidelines, it should be fine. Users don’t want to use an ugly, non-functional website. Even if the offers are great, a bad website can undermine your credibility and steer people away.

 

#9 Audit Against Your Competition

Even if your website or copy isn’t perfect, if it’s better than the competition, you’ve got the advantage. Because of this, if there’s an area you can improve and become better than the competition, you should do exactly that.

In order to do this, you need to consider a few things. First, you need to know how your demographics compare. Then you need to analyze backlinks to determine what industry your website is targeting. Finally, of course, you need to know who your competition is and all of their “scores” too.

There’s a huge number of tools out there you can use to make this process easier:

  • Amazon’s Alexa has tools that let you analyze demographics for a specific website, whether it’s you or your competition.

  • Open Link Profiler is probably the easiest tool to use for analyzing backlinks and where those backlinks point to.

  • Similar Sites can be used to locate competition that has similar content on their website.

  • SEO tools like the Moz SEO toolbar can give you quick access to SEO factors of any website.

  • Quick Sprout can be used to analyze a variety of factors for up to 4 websites at once so you can easily compare them.

    • This includes estimated traffic, SEO, speed, and social share.

  • Which Loads Faster is specifically for website speed but gives a more accurate comparison.

  • Google’s own Keyword Planner is the easiest way to research keywords.

  • Buzzsumo specializes in social-media-related analytics.

  • Ahrefs isn’t as simple as the Open Link Profiler but provides much more detailed information if you need it.

  • Sometimes simply looking at what your competitor is doing and following suit can be good enough

    • Don’t blindly copy their strategies, however. Learn from them, but don’t copy, and only use if they make sense.

If you can find a weakness in the competition that can be exploited, you’ll be in a great position. Even if you aren’t the best overall, having one particularly strong niche can give you the edge. It’s all a matter of actually finding those weaknesses and figuring out how to best exploit them.

 

Conclusion

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It can be hard to figure out why your website isn’t selling as much as it should be. But at the very least, with this guide, it should be a lot easier.

A good website with great copy will be exponentially more successful than a website that’s lacking in either department. And even if you still aren’t confident in making great copy or don’t have the time to make it after reading this guide, you can always hire a digital marketing consultant to ease the process.

The luxury of working from home is counteracted by the difficulty of managing your website. But at the very least, it doesn’t have to stay difficult forever. As long as you know where to look for help, you can get through any tough situation.

Speaking of help, if you’re looking for some guidance, advice, or copywriting help from a marketing strategy approach, you might want to take a look at our consultation page.

Do you have any experience with auditing that others could learn from? Did we miss anything here?

Let us know below! Your comments keep us going!